Oswald's Restoration Theory of Sleep

Oswald's Restoration Theory of Sleep

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A restorative theory claims that sleep is used to repair the body including the brain. Oswald suggests that slow wave sleep is when body repair occurs and REM sleep is when the brain is repaired. This is supported by the fact that there is an increase in the secretion of growth hormones during SWS. This could also explain why brain activity levels are high during REM sleep, and similar to when awake.
Stern and Morgane back up Oswold’s theory about REM sleep with their activation synthesis theory. They believe, with support from research that shows that when people take antidepressants, their REM sleep decreases, that REM sleep is a time for synthesizing nor-adrenaline and dopamine, which are used as antidepressants. This is however, a correlation study which means it doesn’t show causality.
Many studies of the role of sleep are partial or total sleep deprivation studies which support Oswold’s restoration theory. One of these supporting studies was Dement’s. He deprived participants of REM sleep and consequently found that they increased their number of attempted REM stages from 12 to 26 over 4-7 nights. During their first uninterrupted night, participants increased their REM sleep by 10% which is known as REM rebound. This suggests the importance of REM and the possibility that the purpose of sleep is to get into REM sleep. The participants reported anxiety, irritability and difficulty concentrating which shows that REM sleep is needed to avoid these affects and enable brain recovery which corresponds with Oswold’s theory. Even so, Dement’s study has low ecological validity, it has low population validity because there were only 8 participants and they were a self-selected sample. Participants would probably have shown demand characteristics because the experiment took place in a lab. It also has low mundane realism because people would not usually sleep in a lab and be interrupted repeatedly.
This is also unethical as it caused stress. A total sleep deprivation study is even more unethical and therefore difficult to gain participants for, but as a case study, Randy Gardner broke the world record. He suffered from paranoia and hallucinations as a result of the total sleep deprivation which again shows the importance of sleep. However it is not feasible to generalise to the whole population from one self-selected participant.
Further evidence to support Oswold’s theory about SWS, comes from the idea that more physical exercise would lead to more SWS because the body needs more repair.

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Shapiro studied long distance runners which can’t be generalised to the whole population because they are exceptionally fit. Even so, he found that the runners slept 1.5 hours longer than usual during the two nights following a 57 mile race. They devoted particularly more time in SWS.
In contrast to this study, Horne and Minard found that sleep length was not affected by a series of exhausting physical and cognitive activities. However the activities may not have been thoroughly exhausting making this study less valid.
In conclusion, Oswold’s restoration theory is well supported with empirical research and case study.
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